The city of Colorado Springs has a long-standing tradition of conservatism and faith-based organizations. From its beginnings in the mid-19th century as a tourist and mining center located on the eastern flank of Pikes Peak, Colorado Springs has been a hub for conservative values. The Cripple Creek Gold Rush in the 1890s brought millions more people to the area, helping to build the exclusive Broadmoor Hotel, a kind of Greenbrier West, where Fortune 500 executives still stay. After World War II, the military moved to huge Air Force and Army facilities, such as the Air Force Academy and the North American Air Defense Command on Cheyenne Mountain.
The city was one of the centers of President Ronald Reagan's Star Wars industry, and Peterson Air Base continues to lead the military space command. The armed forces created tens of thousands of jobs and added another layer to the conservatism that had been prevailing for almost a century. In recent years, Colorado Springs has seen an influx of para-church groups, usually nonprofit publishers, mission groups, or other organizations that defend the Bible and Christian values. These organizations make up about 5% of the area's workforce. As they have grown locally, Christian groups have exerted more influence on local and state politics.
Two Christian groups, Young Life and The Navigators, had thrived in Colorado Springs since the 1950s, and more have followed since then. In 1984, an Indiana pastor was fasting and praying atop Pikes Peak looking toward Colorado Springs 14,000 feet below. This marked the beginning of a period when Colorado Springs' economic development leaders actively courted prominent evangelical Christian organizations to move their operations and staff to the Pikes Peak region. Desperate to escape the economic crisis, Colorado Springs attracted businesses and nonprofit organizations with the promise of providing cheap land, reducing crime and a variety of outdoor recreational activities. Colorado Springs made national headlines in 1992 when local religious leaders led a statewide bill to ban gays from being a protected class which voters approved but was overturned by the U. S.
Supreme Court. And now that a close presidential election looms, Colorado Springs could play an important role in selecting the nation's next leader. For Christine Glaeser, 54, who attends New Life Church, Colorado Springs is a safe community where she can practice her faith without being ridiculed. For Cook, based in Colorado Springs since 1995, struggled during the pandemic and used small business loans to stay solvent. But despite these challenges faith-based organizations continue to be an important part of life in Colorado Springs.
They have had a significant impact on local politics and continue to shape public opinion in this conservative city.